This year the Red Bull Elements’ production included a special challenge. Besides the usual deliverables we were to produce a clip following Team Mennen, which is a partner of the event. The expectactions on this particular clip were very high since an important communication campaign would follow, aiming to highlight the partnership of Mennen with Red Bull Elements (in line with Mennen sponsoring outdoor athletes like mountain biker Fabien Barel or trail runner Francois d’Haene recently).
All in all the clip has received very positive comments, and the campaign is being very successful with the 1.5 million views mark already achieved (and counting!). This is a great opportunity to display these sometimes confidential sports to such a big audience. The Red Bull Elements has clearly become a major annual rendez-vous for all these sports.
A lot of planning went into the production of the clip, as I knew that exciting visuals would be key to reach the mainstream audience Mennen is targeting with their communication. Another key factor was the length of the clip as we’d have to fit the entire story, and obvioulsy explain the unusual concept of the race within a 2 min 30/ 2 min 45 package. So we knew that there wouldn’t be much room for shots exceeding 2 to 3 seconds and this aspect was fully taken into account during the shooting. Last but not least, the clip was to convey several other aspects and values: the difficulty of the race, the team spirit and camaraderie, and the open mindset of the top athletes involved, namely Vincent Cavard in rowing, François d’Haene in trail running, Aaron Durogati in paragliding and Jordan Sarrou in mountain biking.
A strenuous pre-shooting was completed thanks to a solid team and the fantastic cooperation of these 4 athletes, to get the very specific shots that we knew would be virtually impossible to get on race day. Then on race day a particular focus was put on Team Mennen obviously, with our production coordinator Val Grollemund monitoring the live GPS tracking on the map and communicating info to our 10 cameramen and helicopter dispatched over kilometers and kilometers of trails around Talloires. After the race and a solid 2nd place finish for Team Mennen it was time to enter the edit room and let editor Hugo Clouzeau display his skills.
September is approaching fast, and so is the now traditional rendez-vous of some of the best trail runners, rowers, mountain bikers and paraglider pilots in Talloires, France!
Here’s the teaser produced for the upcoming edition of the Red Bull Elements – Sept 19th, 2015. That’s always an exciting event to cover, with a dozen of cameramen and POV operators spread out in this vast natural playground.
There was also this article on provideocoalition with a more in-depth interview with myself and editor/adobe trainer Aurelie Monod explaining the workflow on FWT.
After testing various solutions we have chosen to use the Adobe Creative Cloud solutions on the Freeride World Tour.
Last fall I already gave a presentation of our workflows at the SATIS show in Paris. In a few weeks I will be giving the same presentation, this time in english, at the IBC in Amsterdam.
I’m obvioulsy very excited by this opportunity! If you plan on attending IBC come by and say hi! I’ll be giving the presentation 3 times on the Adobe booth:
After the came Haines, Alaska, another new destination for the Freeride World Tour. Months of preparation and planning went into this one stop. The complexity of logistics (and associated costs) have been a massive headache, especially for Nicolas Zen whose experience and efficiency have been decisive. By far the single most complicated event that we ever had to put together!
Haines is actually a quite remote destination.
You have a choice of a 5-hour car ride (weather permitting), small airplane (weather permitting) or ferry (weather permitting) to reach this picturesque little town which hosts a most welcoming and supportive community. So getting there is the first, relatively easy hurdle. But what an amazing region of the world. Stunning landscapes and untouched nature everywhere you look! I was lucky enough to board on a panoramic plane flight to get a glimpse from above. Magical! Some of the pictures below from Nico Siron (www.dmprod.net), our trusted replay operator on the FWT.
From that point on, everything was set for the adventure to begin! Once the competition venue was identified by the mountain guides and the race director, half of the live production team was heli-lifted on a ridge opposite to the chosen mountain. Several tons of equipment followed, as well as a doctor, mattresses, sleeping bags and food supplies for several days – because once up on the mountain, you never know when you’ll be able to make it back to the valley!
The idea was to put up the entire production setup and remain on standby till weather and snow conditions would be optimal for the competition. Here are some pictures of the “base camp” which has been up and running for a total of 11 days. Very basic living conditions, but very rewarding for the staff sleeping up on the mountain with some beautiful northern lights diplay above their heads. Once again credit goes to FWT, Nicolas Siron and David Carlier for some of these pictures:
Weather has been the most challenging aspect of this event. The Alaskan coast is know (with reason) for its harsh weather, and this reputation was admirably confirmed during our stay. With barely more than 24/36 hours visibility on the weather forecast and overall poor reliability of the predictions, we had a total of 3 “false starts” before actually being able to hold the competition. But the wait, and the whole gamble of holding an event in such an inhospitable terrain proved well worth it when conditions finally aligned – one day after the official end of the waiting period. And one of the greatest competition ever held happened under our eyes. Here are the highlights:
As soon as the contest was over the helis brought us back to the valley and we hopped on taxis to make the 5-hour journey back to the nearest airport in Whitehorse, Canada. Because of the contest date delay we had to push our flights back to Europe by 24h/48h. Consequently a large amount of editing happened in airport halls and planes as we hurried back to Europe. Indeed just 4 days later we had to be up and ready in Switzerland for the FWT grand finale, the Verbier Xtreme, which also happened to be the highly anticipated 20th edition of this mythical event on the mighty Bec des Rosses.
Needless to say the pressure was on! The fatigue was extreme on this last event, but good spirits and a shared determination to deliver a top-notch event prevailed despite the jetlag and lack of sleep.
On this last event we also put to use some cool technology tested during the season, thanks to the support of the Red Bull Media House who joined forces with FWT to co-produce this final stop of the season. After some extended testing on previous stops, live Gopro transmissions were implemented on forerunners in Verbier, something I’m looking forward to use more widely in the future. We also had this next-level tool called Virtual Eye which basically GPS-tracks a rider down the mountain, measuring speed, vertical drop and provides a very precise trajectory visualization on a 3D modelization of the venue.
I cannot end this entry without thanking again the entire FWT team and in particular the production team under my responsability. Success in such an environnement is only made possible by the hard work and dedication of a great team. Despite the continuous challenges thrown at us the vibe has always been positive, and the willingness to deliver great pictures and great stories has prevailed under any circumstances. Congratulations everyone!
Here’s a quick update to summarize yet another 3-month adventure on the Freeride World Tour 2015!
If you’re new to these pages, let me just summarize by saying that I’m Head of Video and broadcast on the FWT since 2009. The interest in freeriding has grown steadily over the years, and so has the Freeride World Tour and the video productions that we deliver to fans and TVs around the world.
And if you’re new to freeriding, a few pictures speak a thousand words:
Photo credit: Freeride World Tour
(and a big shout out to the talented photographers capturing these spectacular photos!)
Since 2013 we bring live coverage to every competition.
That last sentence alone implies a monumental effort to bring live production facilities to the backcountry, where there are no pre-existing infrastructure: no electricity, no road or pist access, no nothing!
Besides the live production there are tons of other deliverables, from webclips and highlights to newscut and TV programs. That’s a pretty complex operation all in all, especially with the tight deadlines we have to meet to ensure distribution success and keep our sponsors happy. The average production team grew accordinly, from 10-12 people back in the days to between 35 and 40 people nowadays.
They happily travel the world, shooting in freezing temperatures, editing in tents and hangars with gloves on, and so on as can be seen on these behind the scenes photos taken by David Carlier over the first events of the season:
2015 has been a very intense season on every level, first because of some exciting new locations, a new event with the Freeride Juniors World Championship held in Grandvalira/Andorra, and also because Mother Nature played some interesting tricks on us.
After a pretty smooth season start in Chamonix (see the best-of clip here), things got complicated in Fieberbrunn (Austria) due to tricky snow conditions. We had to relocate the event in just 48h to Kappl/Tirol to find the right snow conditions. Unfortunately bib number 2 Julien Lopez triggered an avalanche in the middle of his run. He immediately deployed his ABS airbag to stay on top of the avalanche (now a mandatory piece of equipment for the riders on the FWT) and the rescue team was near him in under a minute. Lopez could ski out of it unharmed, but it was a very stressful moment to handle live – especially as Julien Lopez is a very charismatic guy that a lot of people on the production team know and appreciate.
Fortunately this crisis scenario was something that we (race director, mountain guides, producer, director, commentators) were prepared for and we had our protocols ready. Of course such an incident raises a lot of questions. Our preparation was put into practice with the production of a press release and video clip above, detailing the dynamics of the avalanche and the safety measures taken prior and during the competition.
The response was well received among fans and media alike, and the decision was made to run two competitions during the next event window in Vallnord, Andorra. Things went well there, with one of the highlights of the season being the insane run from Sam Smoothy – that’s a must watch!
Every once in a while an unexpected satisfaction pops up out of nowhere. This was the case last april when the new Red Bull commercial featured one shot from the Skycombo project from last year ; try to spot Fred and Vince flying high above the Mont Blanc in the spot below (warning: real quick shot!)
Thanks again to Val Grollemund for lending me the wide angle lens that captured this shot on the head of Noah Banson. He had no idea back then that I would expose his lens to high altitude, -50°c temperatures and brutal G-forces. The lens came out unharmed fortunately.